Korn powers ahead with attack on energy minister, electricity bills
Former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij increased the heat on Deputy Premier and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow on Thursday over rising electricity prices.
As the deputy prime minister in charge of the Finance Ministry, Supattanapong has the power to restructure the production costs of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), Korn said.
“He can help with Egat’s cost structure, instead of passing on the burden to the people,” he said.
Korn, formerly a key Democrat figure, is now the Chart Pattana Kla Party leader and its prime ministerial candidate.
Supattanapong earlier disputed Korn’s suggestion that the fuel tariff (FT) used in the calculation of electricity costs should be reduced from the current 0.93 baht per unit to zero for the three-month hot season.
Supattanapong argued that the FT was the cost of fuel used in power generation.
The government is focusing on helping vulnerable groups because it costs too much to subsidise everyone, he added. Korn dismissed this argument.
The current electricity price of 4.72 baht per unit is unreasonably high considering the price of imported liquefied natural gas has fallen and the baht has strengthened, he said during an election rally in Roi Et.
Instead of reducing the cost of power, the government is placing a burden on consumers, he said.
Removing the FT charge for three months will not only make electricity cheaper, it will better reflect actual production costs, Korn said, adding that his party’s call to remove the FT charge temporarily was made after careful study.
“I know the financial and monetary principles well,” he said.
Then, referring to Supattanapong, he said: “You have to answer to the public about how you will take responsibility for the expensive cost of electricity.”
“You are deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs, energy minister, and the head of the economic team for the political party, which nominated the prime minister as its PM candidate,” Korn added.
He was among the first politicians to raise the issue of expensive electricity bills, which has become a political landmine for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government.